Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Me No Understand

Indie, reporting on yet another asylum route - the "Saudi adulteress gambit".

Last year, the House of Lords ruled that the SFO's decision to drop the corruption investigation into the £43bn Saudi arms deal with BAE Systems was unlawful.

In a hard-hitting ruling, two High Court judges described the SFO's decision as "an outrage".

One of them, Lord Justice Moses, said the SFO and the Government had given into "blatant threats" that Saudi intelligence co-operation would end unless the probe into corruption was halted.

"No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice," he said. "It is the failure of government and the defendant to bear that essential principle in mind that justifies the intervention of this court."

How come all those Irish terrorists were let out after the Good Friday Agreement then ? Isn't that interference with justice ?

I see, they passed another law to let them out.

So all we need is the Serious Fraud Office (Saudi Arabia) Bill 2009 and we're laughing. Is that OK?

(my views on the BAe/Saudi bribery brouhaha are here.

I'd recommend anyone commenting on this issue to take a look at Anthony Sampson's book The Arms Bazaar. Bribery and large arms contracts have been together for a very long time. If we don't bribe others will. Even senior people in Western democracies can be bribed.

Now it's not unreasonable to say - no. We shouldn't bribe. Let others do it - we won't. Fine. If you don't want to bribe, get out of the arms trade. Which means closing a large chunk of what remains of Britain's technically advanced manufacturing industry. And in this case it also means a rupture with a powerful (we've sold them all that kit) oil-rich nation bordering Iraq. You can see why HMG might blink at this.

UPDATE - Jeremy Warner on doing business 'out there' :

Anyone with any experience of trading in the Middle East knows that the moment you tread further south than Marseilles, the law of contract becomes – how shall we put it? – somewhat pliable. For instance, it is relatively common place for clients in the Gulf to freeze payments to contractors. For us that may be breach of contract, but for them it is merely part of the hard ball of negotiation...

What's going on at Saad Group in Saudi Arabia is in some respects a great deal worse. Much of the money seems to have gone walk about, with local creditors being given preferential treatment over international lenders.


Pat said...

Another point- since when did Her Majesty's writ run to (say) Saudi Arabia? If the recognised Saudi Authorities say that bribery is just part of business-or not-thats up to them where it involves business in Saudi.
The problem is that certain countries have laws which are there for show- evidenced by their failure to enforce them. I'm sure there is a Saudi law banning bribery- but if they don't want to enforce it, neither should we.
It comes down to simple good manners- the house of Saud runs Arabia, not Her Majesty, and until this changes we simply let them run their country. If we really think that we have a right, let alone a duty, to enforce British law in Saudi then we need to plan a regime change. No I'm not enthusiastic either.

BP said...

Two points:
1. Corruption and bribery kills people. The money that would be effectively spent on government services (healthcare, education, proper military equipment, whatever) gets instead spent on a corrupt deal which wasn't the best (as evidenced by the fact that a bribe is needed). Everyone acknowledges this fact, government, civil society and even dodgy groups like most arms dealers, that's why the UK is signed up to international treaties banning bribes. Also the practice is not universal, nor is it neccesarily induced by a third world recipient, BAE in particular has a reputation for turning up in whatever country and asking, who needs to be bribed? An excellent piece on international corruption is at:
2. The arms export industry only makes up a very small percentage of the UK economy (although they tend to blow their own trumpet more than most). The arms export industry employs 0.2% of the british workforce and contributes 1.5% of total UK exports, however it is subsidised by at least £9000 per job per year by the government. Also according to MoD economists, more jobs of a higher quality (not to mention more socially useful ones) could be generated if the arms export industry was converted into civil production. The MoD-York report as its known which shows that is available at http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=MOD-york+report&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a
I'd also recommend http://www.caat.org.uk/issues/jobs/jobs_overview.php